Inventory Management Software

Written by Jill Morrison
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Inventory management software is a great tool for maintaining control over inventory in a business. Without the right tools for managing inventory, problems such as excess or insufficient inventory (stock outs) are bound to occur, often resulting in excessive carrying costs or lost customers. Numerous inventory management software programs can be found online. They can help your business to record, track, organize and view inventory data effectively.

Some business owners try to manage inventory manually which tends to be cumbersome and often results in numerous double entries. This can be a waste of time and can cause more mistakes to occur. When mistakes with inventory levels affect customers, you lose business. Therefore, an inventory management software program is a good choice for any type of business that has product to sell.

There are many different inventory management software programs currently available. Factors to consider in choosing a program include the size of your company, whether or not integration to an accounting package is required, or the type of business you are in. A simple management program will work for some small businesses, but larger businesses typically have needs that go well beyond simply knowing what is in stock.

Options in Inventory Management Software

Inventory Management Software for small to medium sized businesses. Eighty five percent of the small to medium-sized businesses in the United States use QuickBooks for their accounting software. QuickBooks helps businesses manage their accounting but has limited inventory control capabilities. As a result, most small businesses that manage inventory have had to either drop QuickBooks as their accounting package or do their inventory management by hand. To serve this growing market need several inventory control packages have been developed specifically to integrate with the QuickBooks accounting software.

These programs handle such advanced capabilities as unit-of-measure conversions, multiple location integration, light manufacturing, serial number tracking, Bill of Materials, kitting, quoting, Point-of-sale, bar coding, etc. Until recently these capabilities have only been available in software packages costing from $20,000 on up. Cost for these newer packages typically range between $3000 to $6000, and often save the company many times their investment within the first year of implementation.

Additional features include detailed reporting (Reorder Reports) for determining and managing proper inventory levels, the ability to track which products are selling and which aren't, and access restrictions which prevent the wrong people from accessing sensitive data. In short, these programs are providing capabilities which until recently were out of reach of small to medium sized businesses.

Other Useful Tools for Inventory Management Software

And as these programs develop, newer capabilities are constantly being added, such as advanced bar coding. You can pick, pack and ship products using a remote, wireless bar code reader or receive product using a batch bar code reader that allows the user to simply wand in the parts as they are received. Also, integrated UPS/Fedex shipping so that you can print a properly formatted shipping label without having to integrate with a third party software.

Direct Integration with your online store so that your product information does not need to be manually updated. When sales are made online a notice of that sale will be brought directly into your inventory package which will tell you what was sold and to whom it needs to be shipped.

Any inventory control package for small businesses should also allow for multiple users over a network or the internet and should be capable of acting as a stand alone system without having to integrate with any third party software. Additionally, it should run off a commercially available database which will allow for growth within the company. Finally, as with all software products, the company providing the software should have an excellent reputation and be willing to provide references.

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